The Journey to the Cross - Monday Morning
For Christians around the globe, yesterday marked what is traditionally known as Palm Sunday. Now, I know that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th, year 0‚ and didn’t rise from the dead on the 3rd Sunday of the month of April. These days serve as a marker for us. A date and time set aside for us to remember and consider what was happening in God's story of redemption. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of a week that leads up to a, if not THE, defining moment in all of human history — the death of Jesus Christ, the God-Man, on a cross for the sins of the world.
As Jesus approached the city a crowd began to gather in anticipation of his arrival.
Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the people that went before him and that followed him shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:8-9 ESV)
Jesus had been known to attract a crowd. Some followed Jesus because they were hungry for bread and thirsty for water but had no interest in the bread or rivers of life (John 6 & 7); others who’d gorged themselves on the bread of the world and swam in seas of the waters of sin, and found them wholly unsatisfying, recognized Jesus as offering something different (John 4).
Some followed Jesus because they’d heard he did miraculous things and were interested in the spectacle and the show (Luke 11), but some followed Jesus because he had met their deep need by not only healing their physical bodies but offering them with grace and forgiveness which, even if they didn’t know it, was a greater miracle (Mark 2).
Nonetheless, there were crowds who gathered and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” They were declaring Jesus’ royalty (Son of David) as he entered the city of promise (Jerusalem) as an agent of promise to fulfill Psalm 118 (“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” - Psalm 118:26). These same crowds would soon turn on the one they called “blessed” and instead cry out, “Crucify Him!”
Then verse 10 (of Matthew 21) offers an interesting commentary. Jesus’ arrival causes quite the stir:
“And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the crowds said, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.’” (Matthew 21:10-11)
“Who is this?”
There were some who had no clue about all the commotion. They had no idea what was happening and it is likely, even in all the excitement, those who were celebrating and laying branches down before Jesus didn’t really know what was about to happen. Jesus’ own disciples are seemingly caught off guard in the upper room when Jesus tries to tell them what is soon going to happen, and they were the closest to him for years.
Here’s the point: there is only one person who really had to know what was going on…Jesus.
The scriptures tell us that his face was set on Jerusalem (Luke 9:53).
I don’t know what is consuming your thoughts today. You might be thinking about Easter or today might just be a Monday for you and you’re thinking how to just make it through to the end of the day.
But make no mistake, no matter what, the reality is that Jesus entered Jerusalem with a single purpose and his one-man invasion of the city has something to say to us. He's come to seek and save the lost… something that we can barely understand, even on this side of the cross and the resurrection.
Jesus comes to drive out the hypocrisy of our hearts, to decry the effects of sin and the fall on all of creation and to assert his position and authority as the Son of God among the self-righteous who are blind to their (our) lostness.
Jesus invades our world.
How will I respond?
Do I hang around Jesus because those who hang around Jesus are sometimes fed? Even some are healed of their leprosy… OR do I call him blessed, recognize my spiritual blindness, and as he enters the city cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18)
This may be just another “case of the Mondays” but it doesn’t have to be.